What’s New at ACWA: August Update

Find out about the latest work that ACWA has been undertaking in our August newsletter:

New resource gives guidance for workplace change
ACWA is pleased to announce the release of a new sector resource offering organisations valuable guidance for implementing effective consultation processes around workplace change. ACWA has developed this tool in collaboration with our member agencies, the Children in Care Collective, and the Australian Services Union – and with the assistance of the Fair Work Commission.

During periods of major change in the workplace, such as what we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic, consultation between employers and their employees regarding proposed changes is essential. This resource sets out what best practice consultation looks like, with reference to the relevant industrial laws that cover obligations regarding workplace consultation for all child and family sector agencies, including recent changes to the Fair Work Act as part of the Coronavirus Economic Response package.

This is a resource for employers and employees alike, to help engage in constructive discussions. We trust you will find it useful. Click here to download your copy.

Proposed new integrated birth certificates to recognise adoption
ACWA has welcomed proposed reforms that would enable adopted children and young people to have birth certificates which provide details of both their biological and adopted families. You can find out more about this in our media release.

Advocating for a Joint Workforce Development Strategy 
ACWA and AbSec have been involved in productive dialogue with the Department of Communities and Justice and the Minister’s Office regarding our proposal for a combined government/non-government training and development strategy that would ensure our sector workforce is effectively skilled and supported to deliver high quality responses to the needs of vulnerable people in our community. The benefits of a such a single, united approach would be:

  • Providing clarity in relation to the required skills, knowledge and attributes that workers must demonstrate to perform a suite of roles that are common across the sector.
  • Making sure that staff who hold these common roles receive core training and related skills development that is deemed essential.
  • Achieving greater consistency in relation to both the content and quality of training on offer to the child and family services sector.
  • Giving employers confidence that when they have recruited a new staff member who has previously held one of the common roles, they will possess the relevant competencies and skills commensurate with the time spent in their previous role.
  • A more efficient and targeted use of the resources dedicated to training across the child and family services sector.

With this proposal now on the table, further talks between ACWA, AbSec, the Department and the Minister’s Office are now scheduled around how our sectors can work together to progress this initiative. ACWA will keep you updated on further developments as they come to hand.

Nurture your skills through COVID-19 with CCWT online training
While still on the topic of training and skills development, CCWT has an abundance of online options on offer to make sure you are continuing to grow your knowledge and skills until the return of face to face learning. Click on our courses calendar to explore the range of workshops that CCWT will be delivering over the coming months.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to contact our team on 02 9281 8822 or email us: ccwt@ccwt.edu.au.

Responding to the educational needs of vulnerable children and young people
In June, ACWA hosted a constructive webinar, Supporting Children and Families with School Education. This event, which was organised by members of ACWA’s Vulnerable Children and Young People Collaborative Sector Group, gave practitioners the opportunity to discuss and share various initiatives that agencies have been implementing to keep children and families connected to their schooling, and to the broader community, throughout COVID-19.

In addition, the participants heard from DCJ Community Services Director (SWS District) Stuart Malcher and Rebecca Anderson (Networked Specialist Facilitator, School Services Directorate, Department of Education) about the positive outcomes being achieved for children, young people and families in South Western Sydney - both within and outside of school - under a joint referral process currently being piloted in this district.

Menindee Central School, Executive Principal, Fiona Kelly, was also on hand to provide an account of the creative ways her school has been supporting students and families during the pandemic. In this recently published article, Schools as service hubs for collaborative place-based service delivery, webinar facilitators, Annette Michaux and Amy Conley Wright, delve further into the Menindee and South West Sydney stories. Both these examples illustrate why ACWA is calling for collaborative place-based system reform, to not only improve educational outcomes for vulnerable children and young people, but to enhance the service system for vulnerable children, young people and families more generally.

ACWA, in conjunction with members of our Vulnerable Children and Young People Collaborative Sector Group, has taken a number of opportunities to raise this very issue with senior DCJ representatives and government. Click here to read a copy of our related advocacy statement, which outlines the collective appetite for joint government/non-government work in both the education and place-based spheres.

Sector advocacy campaign updates
As a peak body, ACWA has an ongoing commitment to supporting and contributing to advocacy initiatives that seek to address key issues affecting our sector, and the communities we work with.

In terms of our most recent activity, ACWA has:

  • Lent our voice to the NCOSS-led campaign that is calling for increased funding to community services sector.
  • Backed calls by the NSW ASU for exemptions to fee increases to Community sector degree qualifications being proposed under the Commonwealth Government’s planned university reforms.
  • Supported the successful national campaign for effective pregnancy health warning on alcohol products.

Visit ACWA’s website for more information about these campaigns, and for a full rundown of how we have responded.

Furthermore, we are pleased to be supporting the It Takes A Village campaign, which is being run by Fams, Adopt Change and BackTrack Youth Works to raise public awareness around the role the broader community has to play to help keep children safe, during the current pandemic period and beyond. You can read a copy of the campaign organisers’ joint statement here.

Supporting vulnerable children to get active
ACWA has also been working with the NSW Office of Sport to help raise awareness about how caseworkers can help engage children and young people in local sport, recreation and creative activities through the NSW Government’s Active Kids and Creative Kids programs. We are eager to make sure that all vulnerable children and young people have the opportunity to participate in these initiatives, which provide families with $100 vouchers to help cover the costs associated with sport, recreation and creative pursuits. Click here to find out how easy it is to help make this happen for the families, children and young people you are working with.

Integrated Trauma Informed Care Road Test
ACWA recently brought together representatives from more than 20 member agencies to help NSW Health road test its draft Integrated Trauma Informed Care Framework for Vulnerable Children, Young People, Their Families and Carers.

This Framework aims to support the provision of trauma-informed, integrated health services to vulnerable children, young people and their families, with a particular focus on those involved in the statutory child protection system, including out-of-home care.

ACWA extends our thanks to our member participants for contributing their expertise to this important initiative. We look forward to hearing back from NSW Health regarding the outcomes of this consultation, and next steps.

Other news, resources & events

And don’t forget to keep checking our COVID-19 Clearinghouse for resources for managing the pandemic environment.

Supporting ACWA’s work
If your organisation is interested in supporting us in our collaborative systems transformation work, you might like to consider joining us, either as a member or as a supporter. Contact us to find out more: acwa@acwa.an.au.